I have discovered that several people whose blogs or Facebook posts I follow make it a practice to start each new year with a one-word soul resolution. A word that speaks to them personally of the possibilities and pursuits of the year ahead. The Faith Barista shares: “Every year, since I was seventeen, I’ve made it a practice. The day after Christmas until the New Year, I ask for a word. … It might come to me through a lyric of a song, or like a dandelion wafting through the air, a thought somehow snags on a blade of an everyday moment. … I don’t know when that one word will come. But, I always wait for it to arrive. I’m eager to open it — to find the note God will place on my soul for the year.”
As Holly Gerth explains it: “One word lets me have a filter when … opportunities come up. One word gives me focus instead of going in a lot of different directions. One word helps my friends and family know what I want to intentionally pursue so they can cheer me on and help me stay on track.”
Debbie Macomber, one of the author’s I like, also searches for a word for the year. Some of her past words have been: balance, magnify, passionate. One year, she even had a phrase: Make a Difference.
So, I felt like I was in good company when I determined that I needed a word to help me get my 2014 started off in the right direction. The word that has come to me through so many different sources in the past few months is: HAPPY. What I really want to do this year is find my happy, which is not to say that I have been unhappy, but I almost feel like 2013 passed in a blur without me making an intentional effort to insert enjoyment into most of my days.
My husband Bart recently told someone that my top loves were work, our dog Bella, and then him. I told him, “I don’t love my work more than you two. It just takes up so much of my time.” I do love what I do (editing) but I would also like to start spending more time doing other things I enjoy. Of course, Bart spends quite a bit of his time working as well. I would say his top loves were being successful at work, hanging out with Bella, spending time with his son fishing or playing on Xbox, and making me happy. What makes Bella happy? Playing with other dogs. Why can’t it be that simple for the rest of us?
What makes me happy? That’s what I need to work on this year. Figuring it out. Making it happen.
Valerie Alexander, author of Happiness as a Second Language: A Guidebook to Achieving Lasting, Permanent Happiness has this advice: … stop right now and look around your world. Think of ten things that are making you happy in this moment. Find the happiness even when it’s not obvious. …
Be very specific when making your list. Do not write, “My kids make me happy.” What, specifically, about your kids is making you happy right now (and if there’s nothing because they’re being little monsters, don’t include it!) This also gives you the freedom to include — and acknowledge — everything about them that makes you happy. It can be: “I’m happy the boys are still asleep so I have some quiet time to myself.” “I’m happy that Jeannie’s gymnastics class got snowed out today, so I don’t have to drive in this weather.” Love those ideas.
The point is, happy doesn’t have to be complicated, or made up of some crazy, expensive, unattainable ideas. It’s not about things; it’s about moments. Happy moments can be quite simple: taking a break from whatever is stressing you out, sitting outside with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (when it’s nice out), watching a funny movie or videos of laughing babies and playful puppies, going for a drive with no specific destination, taking pictures of the birds outside your window, calling a friend just to chat or to vent, spending non-work time with someone you love. Think about what would make you smile or sigh with relief. What does your happy look like?
I found this magazine that I haven’t ordered yet, but I’m thinking about getting it. It’s called Live Happy. Let me know if you’ve heard anything about it. I just thought they might have some good ideas or information that I can apply to my life or share with others. Meanwhile, they have a Facebook page that you could like if you want to receive positive messages in your FB feed. There are so many encouraging websites, blogs, FB pages out there that you could connect to in the pursuit of happiness. If you have any to recommend, I’d love to hear them.
Obviously, happy looks different for each of us. But I am making an intentional effort to focus on happiness this year. Feel free to join me and let me know how it’s going for you.